Page 1 of 2
Since the end of the Sixties, rang out by the assassinations of Malcolm and Martin, the African American community has been searching for the next leader, or the new movement.
For some, the new movement is all about economic empowerment, political astuteness and personal community improvement based on personal responsibility.
For some, the new leaders have yet to be identified, perhaps hidden among today's youth in politics or in the pulpit.
Still, for others, the position is that there is no real necessity for one single movement, or even specifically identified national leaders.
Part of the problem is that yesterday’s leadership failed to properly train and develop anything beyond themselves.
We must recall that both Malcolm and Martin were selected to lead because of their youth, and according appeal to youth.
However, in the years since then, what has become the old guard of Civil Rights has failed to train, develop or even make room for youth, which is why we see so many grandfathers leading our community organizations.
The result is that many African Americans are less than impressed with stale methods and toothless old lions.
Younger African Americans are apathetic about joining organizations such as the NAACP, which tacitly views youth as the opposition, with little understanding on either side.
Ask today’s youth about what any of the alphabet soup organizations stand for or actually do, and sadly, many have no clue.
And, really, the question must be asked: “Are these organizations still necessary today?”
The answer is complicated.
The Black community today is different because the world is different. What this means is that whatever form leadership of today or tomorrow takes, it must be evolved beyond what has existed since the Sixties.
At 61, Bruce Gordon, the most recent president of the NAACP is a few years older than the immediate past president, Kwesi Mfume, who was 48 when he took the helm of the Civil Rights organization.
When Gordon resigned from the NAACP, the reason given from both sides was a disagreement over the organization remaining focused on social justice issues and Gordon’s desire to have the organization delve into social service.
In other words, Gordon wanted the NAACP to focus on tasks more relevant to today’s social environment, but the board of the organization disagreed.
Clearly what has to happen is a cessation of media creations handed to us in the form of self- aggrandizing preachers or politicos who aren’t really leading anyone, but who show up for every photo op.
And, as a community, we must stop demanding that any person who claims to be a leader stand for everything that we personally need. No man or woman can be all things to all people, which is why there were so many divergent portions of what was once “The Movement.”
For example, Barack Obama is a good man with more qualifications than the retarded man currently in the white house, yet, many African Americans are claiming that he isn’t ready, or in a demonstration of shocking stupidity, that he isn’t “Black enough.”
But if the likes of Obama aren’t ready, or Black enough, or whatever, then really, who is?
Certainly not the greasy-haired preacher twins, Jesse or Al who have never held political office?
The answer isn’t simple.
Sadly, during a time with a paucity of leadership, many otherwise unqualified soldiers have stepped into the spotlight claiming to be generals.
In general, these are unpolished, unprepared, tired, self-serving stumblebums who have stepped in to be identified as so-called “leaders” of the Black community, simply because there is a void of nationally recognizable leaders.
And, since the new cadre of fake leaders has no true national or even local platform, they will often show up in public with dubious positions, frequently bickering with elected officials as well as each other.
We see examples of this clearly in the second largest city in the nation.
Najee Ali, the self-appointed leader of Project Islamic Hope, an organization without any real membership or headquarters and with a dubious mission is currently battling Edie Jones, head of the Los Angeles Civil Rights Association, which Jones admitted has no members or headquarters.
Yet the two show up to woo the media whenever there is a high profile legal or civil rights issue involving African Americans. They frequently compete with each other, and are not above battling with actual community-selected leaders, including U.S. Representative Maxine Waters.
Ali publicly battled Waters and even once confronted her in a church parking lot. The two of them filed and later dropped restraining orders against each other. Their riff began when Ali criticized the elected official for supporting former LA Mayor James Hahn for re-election.
While Ali openly criticized Waters for her choice of candidate, he has come under fire himself for taking questionable stances, while claiming to represent the Black community.
As I outlined in a previous column, three white girls were viciously attacked in Long Beach in 2007. Nine Black youth, one boy and eight girls were found guilty of felony assault.
Even though the Black youth maintain their innocence, Ali held a press conference outside of the Long Beach courthouse urging the parents of the defendants and the defendants themselves to apologize and accept responsibility, simply because they were convicted.
In February of this year, Ali held a news conference and a “Unity Walk” in support of three Hispanic females who identified a mob of African American teens as their attackers.